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Giant Faux White Herons


It’s not every day I nip out to the local shrine for a little photo taking and run into gaggle of women dressed as eight foot tall birds. Japan can be weird, but it’s not usually this weird! They were performing a thousand-year-old dance called Shirasagi no Mai, which means (unsurprisingly), White Heron Dance. It was originally performed as an antidote to that internationally pesky medieval disease, the plague, but because it was apparently not the magic bullet people had hoped, it fell into disuse until 1968, when shrine officials resurrected it from images in an old scroll.

If I had a pair of wings like this, my life would be complete.
Not sure how this was supposed to drive out the plague, but hey, who’s to say it doesn’t work? There haven’t been any epidemics in Tokyo since it was brought back in 1968, so…

For much more gifted photos of this dance, check out Tokyobling’s Blog! If you’re in Tokyo in April and would like to see the dance of the white herons in Asakusadirections & maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

6 thoughts on “Giant Faux White Herons Leave a comment

    • I had to leave before it started (><) although I badly badly wanted to see the ladder guys. And DUH apologies for my belated linking to your blog post about this – still jetlagged out of my mind and getting on trains going the wrong direction, aieeee! After being at this event, I have a renewed appreciation for how gorgeous your photos are, because it is HARD to take decently-framed pictures in the midst of massive, random crowds of spectators!

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